Archive | Politics

Why be a single-issue voter in presidential politics?

I have said many times that I am a single-issue voter. I do not believe that being right on any single issue qualifies a candidate for office. But I do believe that being wrong on certain issues can disqualify a candidate. My thinking on this was shaped nearly 20 years ago by an article I read from John Piper. I recommend that you read the whole thing, but here is the heart of it. Piper writes:

No endorsement of any single issue qualifies a person to hold public office. Being pro-life does not make a person a good governor, mayor, or president. But there are numerous single issues that disqualify a person from public office. For example, any candidate who endorsed bribery as a form of government efficiency would be disqualified, no matter what his party or platform was. Or a person who endorsed corporate fraud (say under $50 million) would be disqualified no matter what else he endorsed. Or a person who said that no black people could hold office—on that single issue alone he would be unfit for office. Or a person who said that rape is only a misdemeanor—that single issue would end his political career. These examples could go on and on. Everybody knows a single issue that for them would disqualify a candidate for office.

It’s the same with marriage. No one quality makes a good wife or husband, but some qualities would make a person unacceptable. For example, back when I was thinking about getting married, not liking cats would not have disqualified a woman as my wife, but not liking people would. Drinking coffee would not, but drinking whiskey would. Kissing dogs wouldn’t, but kissing the mailman would. And so on. Being a single-issue fiancé does not mean that only one issue matters. It means that some issues may matter enough to break off the relationship.

So it is with politics. You have to decide what those issues are for you. What do you think disqualifies a person from holding public office? I believe that the endorsement of the right to kill unborn children disqualifies a person from any position of public office. It’s simply the same as saying that the endorsement of racism, fraud, or bribery would disqualify him—except that child-killing is more serious than those.

Over the years, I have found Piper’s argument so compelling that it has guided my thinking on the issue ever since. If a candidate supports abortion rights, then he is disqualified from my vote as long as there are other alternatives in the field. It may be that there are no alternatives or that the alternatives have other disqualifying characteristics (like racism, fraud, or bribery). For me, support for abortion-on-demand is one of those deal-killers.

The current law of our land excludes from the human community a whole class of human beings — the unborn. Under the regime of Roe v. Wade, it is legal in our country to kill unborn human beings at any stage of development from zero to nine months gestation — for any reason. Our nation’s laws do not recognize an intrinsic right to life for the unborn. In some cases, animals have more protection under the law than do unborn people.

The Roe v. Wade decision has presided over the deaths of more than 57 million innocent human babies since 1973, and it stands as the singular legal obstacle to passing laws restricting abortion in our country. The only way for the unborn to be protected in law is for Roe to be overturned. It will take a five-person majority on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe. Absent such a majority, it will continue to be legal for unborn babies to be killed.

As of now, it appears there is a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court in favor of Roe. The candidate who wins the presidency will appoint justices who will either bolster the current majority in favor of Roe or will make a new majority against Roe.

There is no question that abortion-on-demand is the greatest human rights crisis of our time in our country. That is why we have to have the singular focus of ending that immoral regime. For me, this issue transcends every other contentious issue in public life. And it’s why I believe Christians should be single-issue voters when it comes to the sanctity of human life.


Pro-life Rally this Saturday Morning in Louisville

Pro-lifers are gathering at new Planned Parenthood for a rally Saturday morning at 10 am. Several local pro-life leaders have been scheduled to speak.

The rally will be held to protest Planned Parenthood’s toxic presence near the West end of our fair city. This move is consistent with Planned Parenthood’s M.O. in other cities, where seventy-nine percent of other Planned Parenthood clinics serve low-income African-American communities.


Are you ready for your teenage daughter to be drafted into a combat role?

I said that this could happen, and now it has. The Army and Marine Corps chiefs are calling for women to register for the draft. The Washington Post reports:

The top officers in the Army and Marine Corps testified on Tuesday that they believe it is time for women to register for future military drafts, following the Pentagon’s recent decision to open all jobs in combat units to female service members.

Gen. Mark A. Milley, chief of staff of the Army, and Gen. Robert B. Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, both said they were in favor of the change during an occasionally contentious Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the forthcoming full integration of women in the military. They offered their opinions in response to a question from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who said that she also is in favor of the change.

“Senator, it’s my personal view that, based on this lifting of restrictions… every American who’s physically qualified should register for the draft,” Neller said.

The main reason that we ought to oppose this is because men and women are different. I know it’s not popular to say so, but that doesn’t make it any less true. This used to be obvious to everyone, but now it’s not. We would do well to remind ourselves what our grandparents and generations before them have always known.

Not only are men and women different dispositionally, but they also have fairly profound physical differences. On average, women are weaker than men. And you don’t have to be a bible-believing conservative to acknowledge this (e.g., 1 Pet. 3:7). It’s an empirical fact observeable by anyone with eyes to see. This puts women at a distinct disadvantage in combat.

One recent item that illustrates the point. MMA fighter Tamika Brents describes what it was like to face a man in the ring:

I’ve never felt so overpowered in my life. I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night… I can only say I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female.

What happened to Tamika during her fight with this man?

What Brents reportedly experienced at Fox’s hands was a concussion and a broken orbital bone that required staples. In other words, this woman was savaged by an opponent that was genetically advantaged with a thicker bone structure, longer reach, and denser musculature—or, put more simply, was a man. Fox was able to do this despite hormone treatments that made him more feminine in certain aspects.

Can you imagine this experience played out countless times on distant battlefields in places where women are treated as little more than chattel?  You need to imagine it because it may be your daughter or mother or niece called up. Can you imagine sending your daughter or mother into the maw of deadly conflict with men who will do much worse to them than what happened to Tamika Brents in the MMA ring?

In a widely circulated letter, a female Marine named “Sentry” puts a fine point on it:

This country and our military are NOT prepared to see what the enemy will do to female POWs… How is our 24/7 news cycle going to cover a captured, raped, mutilated woman? After the first one, how are the men in the military going to treat their female comrades?… Men in the military will move heaven and earth to protect women, never mind what it does to the mission. I present you with Exhibit A: Jessica Lynch. Male lives will be lost trying to protect their female comrades. And the people of the US are NOT, based on the Jessica Lynch episode, prepared to treat a female POW the same way they do a man.

I know that many women have served admirably in our military. And there are certainly some who are physically exceptional and who may show some aptitude and interest in combat. But that’s just it. They tend to be exceptional. They are not the norm. And opening the draft to all women and potentially exposing all women to combat service is treating the exception as if it’s the norm. This is absurd and dangerous.

In addition to these issues, there is the very real possibility that physical requirements will have to be lowered in order to achieve the egalitarian ideal of women in combat units. If this happens (and many believe that it certainly will), our force will be weakened as a result. This too is absurd and dangerous.

At the end of the day, this issue is irreducibly moral. It goes to the heart of what kind of people we want to be. Are we really so beholden to feminist propaganda that we are willing to send our daughters and mothers to be ground up by the rigors of a combat unit? I hope not.

Men ought to bear the burdens of combat. We are all diminished by foisting this burden on our mothers and daughters and nieces. We can do better. We must do better.

Who is going to win the Iowa caucuses and the GOP nomination?

A lot of folks have asked me who I think will win the Iowa caucuses and the Republican nomination. My short answer about Iowa is that I don’t know. My long answer is that if the polling trends are correct, Trump will win. If there is a low overall turnout and high evangelical turnout, Cruz will squeak past Trump and win—especially if Rubio’s surge has indeed plateaued.

My short answer about the GOP nomination is that it depends. I expect Santorum and Huckabee to drop out of the race after Iowa. Other candidates will drop out after New Hampshire and South Carolina. The sooner the field winnows, the sooner we’ll know how much support will consolidate behind one of the current leaders. My hunch is that either Rubio or Cruz (or both) will emerge as the alternative to Trump, even if Trump wins the early contests. This contest could go all the way to the convention. But what do I know? I’m just a theologian.

Which is why we should turn to a professional at this point. Ross Douthat put out one final tweet-storm this afternoon with his predictions in advance of the Iowa caucuses tonight. Douthat is doubling-down on his prediction that Trump will not be the nominee, even if he wins tonight. I include his brief analysis below. I’ll be crossing my fingers that he’s right about Trump. Continue Reading →

My thoughts on the last debate before Iowa caucuses

Just a quick note on the final GOP debate before the Iowa caucuses. I think Gov. Jeb Bush had his best night, and I know I’m not the only one who is thinking about what might have been had Donald Trump not been in this race. But Trump is in the race, and he has sucked all the proverbial air out of the room. Some would see this as a show of strength. But I don’t see it that way. It’s a show of insult and bravado. Michael Gerson is right:

Days away from the first votes of the presidential nomination process, the prohibitive Republican front-runner is successfully applying the lessons of his pro wrestling career to dominate media coverage and prevent opponents from gaining attention and traction. God help us…

As for who won the debate, I agree with David French who makes a good case that Bush won. But he also observes that his solid performance is too late to help his candidacy in Iowa:

This debate was a fascinating glimpse into what might have been absent the disrupting force of Donald Trump. Bush was far more at ease without one of the candidates hurling middle school insults at him, and the debate itself was substantive — showcasing the GOP’s most effective communicators. This is why people said the GOP had a “deep bench” in 2016. Absent Trump, the three-man contest likely would have been between Bush, Rubio, and Cruz. But might-have-beens are irrelevant, and in this evening’s audition for the best alternative to Donald Trump, Marco Rubio won the night.

Trump’s “low energy” attack on Bush was devastating, below the belt, and effective. It was a personal attack that had no relevance to any of the substantive issues at hand. But Trump has proven that he specializes in sophomoric insults. He may have elevated himself by doing so, but he has diminished the process. I was glad he wasn’t on the stage tonight. It is a shame that qualified candidates are about to have to cede the race to the one man in the race who is singularly unqualified. On that note, one final word from Gerson:

It is a tribute to the seriousness of the Trump candidacy that we should be considering the real-world consequences of his temperament. But his feud-seeking, his personal insults, his shock-jock transgressiveness, his sexism, his mocking of those with disabilities, his clumsy deceptions, his toxic leadership style, his cultivation of chaos should be issues in this campaign. And they should be disqualifying in a prospective president.

Read the rest of Gerson’s column here.

The “Rubio or Bust” Theory

Readers of this blog know what I regard to be the transcendent moral issues of our time–the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage, and religious liberty. I have views on national security, the economy, etc., but those first three items are the biggies as far as I’m concerned. And there is more than one presidential candidate in the field who would do reasonably well on each of those issues. 

So please do not construe what follows as an endorsement, because it’s not. I am not going to endorse a candidate–mainly because I’m a pastor and I don’t want to give the impression that you have to vote for candidate “X” in order to be a good Christian. So what follows is not an endorsement. Nor is it meant to imply that someone is falling short if they disagree.

It is, however, a sober analysis of likely outcomes given a certain set of electoral circumstances (HT to Justin Taylor). David Wasserman predicts that it’s “Rubio or bust” for the Republicans at this point. Wasserman explains:

There are a lot of complex analyses of the 2016 election floating around. My own theory is quite straightforward: If Hillary Clinton is the nominee — and she remains a heavy favorite over Bernie Sanders — her fate largely rests with Republican voters’ decisions over the next few months.

If Republicans nominate Rubio, they would have an excellent chance to beat Clinton by broadening their party’s appeal with moderates, millennials and Latinos. The GOP would also have an excellent chance to keep the Senate, hold onto a wide margin in the House and enjoy more control of federal government than they have in over a decade.

If they nominate Ted Cruz, Clinton would probably win, the GOP Senate majority would also be in peril and GOP House losses could climb well into the double digits. A Donald Trump nomination would not only make Clinton’s election very likely and raise the odds of a Democratic Senate; it could force down-ballot Republicans to repudiate Trump to survive, increase pressure on a center-right candidate to mount an independent bid and split the GOP asunder.

In other words, if you’re a member of the Republican Party who wants to win in November, it’s basically Rubio or bust. The “Rubio or bust” theory relies on a process of elimination rather than an assessment of his biography, skills or ground game.

Feel free to disagree with this analysis below, but I think this sounds about right. Read the rest of Wasserman’s essay here.

A younger generation will rightly sit in judgment on ours

Your must-read piece on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade is from Frederica Mathewes-Greene. It is stunning, tragic, and wonderful. I give you just the conclusion here, but you must read the whole thing. She writes:

The pro-life cause is perennially unpopular, and pro-lifers get used to being misrepresented and wrongly accused. There are only a limited number of people who are going to be brave enough to stand up on the side of an unpopular cause. But sometimes a cause is so urgent, is so dramatically clear, that it’s worth it. What cause could be more outrageous than violence — fatal violence — against the most helpless members of our human community? If that doesn’t move us, how hard are our hearts? If that doesn’t move us, what will ever move us? 

In time, it’s going to be impossible to deny that abortion is violence against children. Future generations, as they look back, are not necessarily going to go easy on ours. Our bland acceptance of abortion is not going to look like an understandable goof. In fact, the kind of hatred that people now level at Nazis and slave-owners may well fall upon our era. Future generations can accurately say, “It’s not like they didn’t know.” They can say, “After all, they had sonograms.” They may consider this bloodshed to be a form of genocide. They might judge our generation to be monsters. 

One day, the tide is going to turn. With that Supreme Court decision 43 years ago, one of the sides in the abortion debate won the day. But sooner or later, that day will end. No generation can rule from the grave. The time is coming when a younger generation will sit in judgment of ours. And they are not obligated to be kind.

Leader Nancy Pelosi is not morally serious

Melinda Henneberger published an interview with Leader Nancy Pelosi two days ago in which Henneberger actually presses Pelosi about funding for Planned Parenthood. In response, Pelosi committs a number of howlers.

1. Pelosi indicates that she has never taken the time to actually watch the undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress (see above). I’m sorry. But if you haven’t taken the time to watch the videos by now, you have forfeited your right to criticize them.

2. Pelosi also claims that the videos were “doctored” (see above). When Henneberger presents Pelosi with evidence that the integrity of the videos have been verified by Planned Parenthood’s own investigators, Pelosi digs her heels in (see below). In spite of the evidence, Pelosi says that she still believes they were “doctored.” But there is an irony in her insistence that the videos were doctored. It’s a tacit admission that the videos portray something terribly wrong. So all sides agree that the videos portray something very wrong, but the sides disagree whether they were doctored. Just remember that only one side has the evidence on their side about the integrity of the videos.

3. Pelosi says that she does not believe in abortion-on-demand. Nevertheless, she reaffirms her unqualified support for Roe v. Wade, which in conjunction with Doe v. Bolton actually establishes the right to abortion-on-demand. Furthermore, when asked whether she would support any limits on abortion rights after 20 weeks, she refuses to name any acceptable limits. If that seems self-contradictory and non-sensical to you, that’s because it is. You cannot credibly claim to be against abortion-on-demand while supporting Roe. Those positions are mutually exclusive. This can only be either moral confusion or moral evasion–neither of which comprise a credible defense of funding for Planned Parenthood.

Over 57 million people have been killed by abortion since it became legal in 1973. In the United States, legal abortion-on-demand is without question the greatest human rights crisis of our time. As the nation’s leading abortion provider–killing over 300,000 human beings a year–Planned Parenthood is the chief purveyor of this horror. Those who would defend this ugly status quo are grasping at straws, and when that fails they descend into irrationality. And that is what is on display in this interview.

A religious test for conservative Christians in academia

In terms of cultural influence, there is hardly any group more consequential than the faculty members of elite universities. They have an incalculable impact on emerging generations of leaders in business and politics and other fields that define our national life.

How do they come to this position of influence? The first and most important qualification is the Ph.D. degree. Who determines who gets Ph.D.’s in our country? Little groups of faculty members meeting in little rooms determine who gets into the programs and thus who will comprise the future faculties of our nation’s colleges and universities. How do these committees do their work? Continue Reading →

When transgenderism hurts children


Many people treat gender identity conflicts and sexual orientation as if they are the same. If a sexual orientation is something you are born with and is thus immutable (a claim I would contest as a Christian), then gender identity must work the same way. It’s something you’re born with and can’t be changed. If therefore a child embraces a gender identity at odds with his/her biological sex, then it would be harmful and wrong to try and change that gender identity to align with the child’s biological sex. It would be harmful and wrong in the same way that trying to change sexual orientation is harmful and wrong.

Because trying to change a child’s mind is harmful and wrong, the best way to deal with gender identity conflicts in children is to try and change the body. And so more and more, hormone suppression and cross-dressing are prescribed to young children who experience gender identity conflicts. The cross-dressing establishes them socially in their preferred gender. Hormone suppression prepares their bodies for gender reassignment surgery at a later point—because again, changing the body is less harmful than trying to change the mind. At least that’s how the politically correct orthodoxy has developed. Continue Reading →

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